The first rule is...there are no rules!
See, here's the thing.
I'm a teacher. I live by rules on a daily basis. Sometimes I'm a bit uncomfortable when I'm out of my routine. I love creativity, and I love creating new things, but when I feel that rules are involved, I feel compelled to abide by them.
I think this is why I didn't explore further my creative writing in coursework at college. I was used to academic writing about literature. I was good at it. Dang good at it. And I was pretty decent at journalistic writing as well, partly because it had structure. Once I understood the structure, I became an expert at cranking those articles out. When I had a magazine internship, I floundered a bit. I never imagined that writing a blurb was so freaking hard. It's short, and yet if it's not done right, it feels so incredibly slow and boring! I would try and try and try and still feel like a boring blurb writer!
I'm wondering if I took up blurb writing again whether I would inspire myself back into creativity.
You see, here's the thing.
The other day, someone posted about "The Rules," and since that moment I think that there has been some kind of nagging sensation in my mind that I'm in a situation with my writing in which I just don't know/understand the rules. I find contradictory information at every turn. Adjectives and adverbs are to be avoided (why?) Don't use italics because it's for amateurs. (really? I thought it was the way it's supposed to be done!) Make sure to include major information about your protagonist and setting in the first few sentences on your first page. (ok. I kind of feel a bit like a Nancy Drew book at times, but if you say so...)
My creative writing classes were always the most confusing. I never fully understood where my grades were coming from. What one thing was good and another wasn't good enough. The grades just seemed so arbitrary. I didn't feel like I understood what was expected of me. What is this crazy world and how do I become a part of it? I always felt as though I was on the outside looking in. We were given these essay models that we were to follow, choosing at least one particular trait to imitate in our own writing. But I never felt as though I could understand how to do that. And so many people have told me how that is a completely messed up approach.
The truth is that I don't really know what contemporary writing is supposed to look like, what markets are truly looking for, what a first page should look like, and how it's all put together. I just kind of explore some kind of idea inside myself and then ask around to find out if it works or not. Usually I find that it doesn't, and that it needs major revision.
And sometimes (maybe this also has to do with my lack of creative writing training) I find that I am completely lost about how to revise my own creative writing. With my academic writing it was always easy. I tried to write the most perfect draft the first time, and then I would scrutinize it for organization, thought process, evidence and word choice. It's much easier to do this on a literary criticism essay, where everything is pretty much cut and dried. It's much harder to fire up that creative writing spark again after it has died down.
So that's where I'm at. I don't know how to correct this problem. I don't really know how to BE a writer, even though it has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I love reading and I love writing, but I'm getting the idea that it's simply not enough to love these activities. I need to do something to make sure that my writing skills are as strong as my reading skills. Where the heck do I begin??
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